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Cyber Crime and Role of Social Worker

The word cyber crime has become a well-known word these days because of the increase in cybercrime incidents. The word cyber crime is a combination of two words, cyber and crime. The word cyber means things related to computer or internet and the word crime means evil or an illegal act or deed that is punishable.

Online crime is on an upward trend, according to the crime report. 2,08,456 incidents were reported in 2018, rising to 3,94,499 in 2019, which increased significantly to 11,58,208 cases and 14,02,809 cases in 2021. It is a hard fact that the first two months of 2022 registered a massive amount of cybercrime i.e. 2,12,485.

The growth in cybercrimes is alarming. Increasing the number of cybercrime incidents annually is a burden on the already busy investigative system. This is evident from records of National Crime Records Bureau which shows that on an average 65.81 per cent of cases were pending for investigation at the end of each year.[i] This shows a bleak future as this pile up and increase in the number of cases will eventually break down the investigation system unless drastic step is not taken to reduce the rate of cyber crime.

Causes Of Cyber Crime:

  • Economic Cause:
    Financial gain is one of the most common causes of cybercrime. Gone are the days when one had to go to a lonely street and wait for the sunset to steal, loot or cheat. Now access to a bank account is 24x7 x365. Financial gain is a major reason for motivation to commit cybercrimes.
  • Easy Access To Mobile:
    A mobile device has become less expensive and more powerful due to the high competition in this segment. Cheaper data packs and a faster network have made mobile devices faster and now able to handle almost all activities that used to be done by computers. Mobile devices have become a powerful weapon in the hands of cyber criminal to commit cyber crime.
  • Lack Of Technology Awareness:
    Lack of basic technological knowledge is one of the key drivers of cybercrime growth. Even educated people ignore the technology empowerment that results in becoming a victim of cybercrime. Negligence of cybersecurity measures can be fatal and cause monetary losses. For example, in phishing crimes, victims themselves provide critical financial details that are used negatively by Cyber Criminals to commit cyber crime.
  • Privacy:
    The concept of privacy is a personal choice and varies from one individual to another. Divulging too much information on social media platforms can be fatal. The lack of awareness of the privacy option available on social media is a concern as it may be exploited by cybercriminals.

Impact Of Cyber Crime

Economic Impact:
Financial losses due to cyber crime are enormous. According to a report published in 2019, Rs 1.25 lakh crore was lost due to cybercrimes. Every year, thousands of people and businesses fall victim to cybercrimes like phishing and ransomware. According to one report, more than 78% of enterprises have been affected by ransomware attacks.

Emotional Loss:
A cyber criminal uses various techniques to commit cyber crime and one the common method is texting or chatting and luring into an emotional relationship which latter converts into blackmailing and harassment. The victim may suffer from depression and, in some instances, has even committed suicide. The physiological loss of cybercrime requires focus and study.

Diversity Victim Profile:
A cybercrime victim may be a minor, young or elderly person. There are different types of cybercrime, which is why victims of cybercrime have different age groups. Young children are more likely to be victims of cyber crime because they are unaware of it. For instance, the Blue Whale Challenge game where the players have to complete different task including self harm and suicide.[ii]

Cybercrimes And The Role Of The Social Worker

Preventive Role:
A social worker can play an important role in preventing cybercrime, especially among students, especially school children. There are certain signs or behavioral changes that a social worker can recognize and conduct counseling. A social worker can discuss things like cyberbullying and how it affects an individual.

Cybercrime causes huge physiological problems in certain cases, especially when the victim was emotionally attached to the cyberattacker. In cases of extortion where the victim has shared personal photos or videos the victim may suffer from guilt and fear. In such cases, counselling is very important as the victim lives in constant fear or guilt.

The law related to cyberspace is contained in the Information Technology Act, 2000, which was amended in 2008. The Information Technology Act has introduced and covered new areas of application, such as electronic records, digital signatures, cybercrime, etc. The technological world has changed the way we live, learn and communicate. Now we share pictures, stories, thoughts on the digital platform. We see, comment, agree and disagree on digital platform. We purchase online and sometimes sell online and so do contracts.

The new advantage brought by the technology brought its vulnerability in the form of cybercrime. Prevention is better than healing is rightly said for cybercrime, because most cyber crimes are preventable if proper education and counselling are conducted. Most of children and youngster are becoming a victim of cybercrime and has a social worker a vital role to play in prevention and as well as a counselor. Unfortunately, the role of social worker has been ignored in the case of cybercrime and the victim suffers in silence.

Written By: Savita Yashvant Kale, MSW, Yashwantrao Chavan School of Social Work, Satara
I am thankful to Dr.Shaly Joseph (Incharge Principal) for her encouragement in research work

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